Address to United Nations Security Council, by Nelson Mandela, 15 July 1992, New York United States

Mr President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

Your Excellency, Dr Boutrous Boutrous Ghali,

Secretary General of the United Nations,

Ministers and Ambassadors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, we would like to express our appreciation to the Security Council for agreeing to convene on the question of South Africa. We would also like to thank you most sincerely for giving us the opportunity to address you.

The United Nations has been seized with the question of South Africa for the past 45 years.

The reason for this is that our people have been subjected to the policy of apartheid which the United Nations has determined is a crime against humanity and helping to transform our country into a non-racial democracy. This objective has not yet been achieved.

South Africa continues to be governed by a white minority regime. The overwhelming majority of our people are still denied the vote. They remain deprived of the right to determine their destiny.

Representatives of the South African government will also address you today. However sweet-sounding the words they may utter, they represent the system of white minority rule to which the United Nations is opposed. They continue to govern our country under a constitution which the Security Council has declared null and void.

Precisely because its purposes have not yet been achieved, the United Nations must remain seized with the question of South Africa. It must continue to look for ways and means by which it can help to expedite the process leading to the democratic transformation of our country.

In the meantime an extremely critical situation has arisen.

Whereas in the Declaration of Intent adopted at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa on the 21st December, 1991 we all committed ourselves to set in motion the process whereby a democratic constitution would be drafted and adopted for a united, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, the process is deadlocked.

The problem is that the ruling white minority government continues to look for ways and means by which it can guarantee itself the continued exercise of power, regardless of its electoral support. The regime insists that the political majority, no matter how large, should be subjected to veto by minority political parties. Unless government is forthcoming with a firm commitment to full democracy based on internationally accepted principles, and an acceptance of a sovereign and democratic constitution making body, the process will not move forward.

But the Council meets today because this process has been brought to a halt by the carnage in the black townships. Over the last five to six years, at least 11,000 people have died as a result of this violence. During the month of June 1992 there have been 373 deaths and 395 injuries. 1 806 have been killed and 2,931 injured during the period January, 1992 to June 1992.

Control of state power by the National Party regime allows it the space to deny and cover up the role of the regime, its surrogates, the state security forces and the police in fostering and fomenting the violence. Our Memorandum of the 9th July, 1992 to Mr F. W. De Klerk sets out the evidence of numerous instances, both of acts of omission and commission, which bear out government involvement in the violence. In particular, we draw your attention to the annexure entitled "Involvement of the Security Forces in the fomenting and escalation of violence", and Annexure 3 entitled "South African Government support for the Inkatha Freedom Party".

Mr President:

Many years of struggle both inside and outside of South Africa brought us to the point in 1989 when, in its consensus Declaration on Apartheid and its Destructive Consequences in Southern Africa, the General Assembly concluded that circumstances existed for a negotiated resolution of the South Africa question.

In that Declaration the General Assembly said that such negotiations should, as a result of agreements that would be entered into by the liberation movement and the government, be conducted in an atmosphere free of violence.

We were and are in full agreement with these positions. They were adopted by the General Assembly precisely because it was correctly foreseen that the process of negotiations could not succeed while a virtual civil war raged in the country.

Pursuant to this objective, in August 1990 the ANC decided to suspend all armed actions. We did this unilaterally as a demonstration of our good faith and to help create an atmosphere free of violence.

At the same time it was expected that, for its part, the regime would carry out various measures which would remove obstacles to negotiations, and that it would ensure that a proper climate for negotiations did in fact exist.

Instead we have been confronted with an escalating spiral of violence.

An independent socio-political and development agency known as Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) has prepared five reports with regard to the pattern of violence. One of these reports comes to the conclusion that:

"The violence appears to be switched on and off at strategic moments."

It continues:

"Behind the scale of brutality ... is the clear evidence that the violence erupts at points when it most weakens the ANC and its Allies and dies down dramatically when it would most harm the government of F. W. De Klerk."

It then goes on to say:

"Two political parties have clearly benefited from the Reef violence. The first is the National Party government... The second major beneficiary has been Inkatha ."

Another report deals with 13 attacks on funerals or funeral vigils which took place on the Reef between July, 1990 and July, 1991. This study concludes that there is "an overwhelming predominance of acts of aggression carried out by supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Those attacks, moreover, are carried out with the active or passive support of the South African Police".

It is more than clear to us that this violence is both organised and orchestrated. It is specifically directed at the democratic movement, whose activists, members and supporters make up the overwhelming majority of its victims.

It constitutes a cold blooded strategy of state terrorism intended to create the conditions under which the forces responsible for the introduction and entrenchment of the system of apartheid would have the possibility of imposing their will on a weakened democratic movement at the negotiations table.

However, as had been foreseen by this Organisation, this violence also has the effect of making negotiations impossible. Already in April, 1991, when this campaign of terror grew to new heights, we were left with no choice but to suspend the bilateral negotiations with the regime until it took various measures to address the question of violence.

It is now common cause that the agreements that the government reached with the ANC in May 1991 aimed at curbing the violence have not been carried out by the regime.

Faced with the horrendous escalation of the violence, as evidenced in the Boipatong Massacre, occurring in the context of the negotiations deadlock, the ANC has been forced to withdraw from the multilateral process of negotiations which had been taking place in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa.

The blame for this lies squarely at the door of the regime. It, and nobody else, has the law enforcement personnel and the legal authority to stop this violence and to act against the perpetrators.

As the governing authority, it has the obligation to protect the lives and property of all the people. It has failed dismally to do this.

The regime's actions, including its persistent efforts to shift the blame for the violence and the responsibility to act against it to political organisations, have served to ensure the escalation of the carnage.

Though the causes of the violence are many and complex it is important that we should all have a clear perspective. It is the regime which controls state power with the capacity to bring the violence to an end. Complicity of state security forces is established by the evidence which emerged in numerous court trials, inquests and commissions and is recognised in the Goldstone Commission as well as reports of international fact finding missions.

It is also clear that the central thrust of the violence is to weaken the ANC and the democratic movement of the country.

In the face of this situation, it is also true that there are instances of counter violence by members of the democratic movement. At the same time, it is a matter of public record that the ANC policy stands opposed to the promotion of violence. We remain firmly committed to this position. But our task of ensuring that this policy position is fully and completely adhered to is made more than difficult because of the practice of the state security forces, its surrogates and the fact that it is the police controlled by the regime who remain in charge of investigating the violence, in which the state security forces are implicated, and bringing the perpetrators to book.

The ANC maintains that government culpability for the violence extends to acts of commission as well as omission.

The International Commission of Jurists and Amnesty International have blamed the government for failure to act against the violence. Amnesty International notes governments "failure to bring to justice all but a tiny proportion of those involved in human rights violations ...".

Judge Goldstone in his report dated the 6th July, 1992 complains of several instances where the authorities have ignored the recommendations of his Commission.

Not a single person has been convicted in connection with the 49 massacres that claimed the lives of at least ten people in each of the incidents that have occurred in the past two years.

Where there have been proper investigations and vigorous prosecution as resulted from the Trust Feed Massacre of December 1988, convictions have been secured. Those convicted were policemen.

In 1985 Matthew Goniwe and three other Eastern Cape leaders were murdered. In May this year a document, whose authenticity has not been challenged, a message from the SADF military intelligence chief, General C. P Van der Westhuizen (then a Brigadier) proposed to the State Security Council that the four authorise "the urgent removal from society" of Goniwe and the others. No move has been made to suspend Van der Westhuizen from his position.

No action has been taken to suspend the head of the SAP forensic laboratories, General Lothar Neethling, after a Supreme Court civil case finding in January 1991 that his involvement in the poisoning of activists was on the balance of probabilities true.

Despite a judicial commission finding implicating several Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) members in political violence, none has been charged. At least 20 CCB members, and probably many more, remain on the SADF payroll. Others have been offered or received huge pensions. Several have demanded immunity from prosecution.

In February 1992 it came to light that local white policemen based at the Ermelo police station encouraged and actively helped a gang of vigilantes in Wesselton. No policemen concerned has been suspended.

In an official operation in 1986 the SADF gave military training in Namibia to 200 Inkatha members who were later absorbed into the KwaZulu Police. Several trainees in sworn affidavits, claimed to have been trained in offensive warfare. The regime has dismissed this incident on the grounds that they received VIP protection training. Some of the trainees have subsequently been implicated in the violence in Natal.

No action has been taken to control and limit the powers of the KwaZulu police. Extensive evidence exists of KwaZulu partiality and involvement in the violence in the Natal province.

However, as recently as July 1st, 1992 the powers of the KZP have in fact been strengthened. From that date the South African Police's Internal Stability Unit will only act on unrest in KwaZulu if called on to do so by the KZP District Commissioner.

In 1990 the Pretoria regime issued specific proclamations legalising the carrying of dangerous weapons in public. This repealed a prohibition which had been in force since 1891.

In other words, after the ANC and other organisations were unbanned in 1990, the Pretoria regime has created a situation in which hordes of men would spill out into the streets and enter public places with the most dangerous weapons. The government is unable to explain why it virtually gave people the license to kill and maim. It has never explained why its police and army regularly accompanied these killers after many murderous rampages and arrested nobody.

We charge, without equivocation, that there is a rational basis for these acts of omission on the part of the South African government. The hard facts of the matter are the South African government has never relented in its war against the democratic movement in our country.

Recently a covert police unit, operating in the area around Boipatong, came to public attention. It, and ten others operating in other regions of the country, exist for the purpose of suppressing the democratic movement which the government still regards as the enemy and a threat to so-called national security. Former officers and personnel of the Security Police have been redeployed into these clandestine networks.

There are persistent allegations that members of these units as well as those in Special Force units composed of foreign nationals, such as Angolans, Mozambicans and Namibians, are engaged in covert operations that include the assassination of leaders and activists of the democratic movement. They are also implicated in carrying out acts of terror against the population at large.

In order to confuse the issue and evade its responsibilities the government insists that the source of the violence is rivalry between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party. The fact of the matter however is that the IFP has permitted itself to become an extension of the Pretoria regime, its instrument and surrogate.

Its activities have been financed by the South African government. Its members have been armed and trained by the South African government. There is an abundance of evidence that it continues to benefit from covert co-operation with the South African government.

It therefore becomes unclear whether its members act as an independent force or as an agency on behalf of the South African government. However, it is not an independent force with whom the ANC must enter into an agreement to end the violence as the Pretoria regime asserts.

The documentation we have given to members of the Council details all the points we have raised, all of which confirm the criminal failure of the government properly to address the question of political violence which has claimed too many lives already, is tearing our country apart and making the process of negotiations impossible.

We would like to recall earlier decisions of this Council to help the people of South Africa to transform their country into a non-racial democracy. We believe that commitment place an urgent obligation of the Council to intervene in the South African situation to end the carnage.

The very interest of the Council to see the negotiations resumed so that a peaceful solution can be found, in keeping with the democratic principles contained in the General Assembly Declaration on Southern Africa of 1989 and the resolutions of the Security Council, itself requires of the Council that it act on this matter of violence in South Africa firmly and with the necessary speed.

We believe that this violence like the system of apartheid itself is a direct challenge to the authority of the Council and a subversion of its global tasks of furthering peace and promoting the objectives contained in both the UN Charter and the Declaration on Human Rights.

Failure on the part of the Council to act firmly and decisively cannot but undermine its prestige and authority at a time when the Council and the United Nations as a whole are called upon to play an even more active role in the ordering of world affairs.

We would therefore urge that the Council should request the Secretary General to appoint a special representative on South Africa.

This representative should move speedily to investigate the situation in South Africa with a view to helping the Council to decide on the measures it should take to help us end the violence. The Council should then take the necessary decisions to implement such measures, including the continuous monitoring of the situation, to ensure the effectiveness of such measures as it would have undertaken.

We would also like to bring it to the notice of the Council, for the purpose of its information, that we have required of the government that it also completes the process of the release of political prisoners as well as the repeal of repressive legislation.

Again these are concrete steps visualised in the UN Declaration to create a climate conducive to negotiations. That these matters remain on the agenda more than two years after we entered into a formal agreement with the South African government that they would be attended to, demonstrates the problem we face of the reliability of the government in terms of implementing agreements it has entered into.

We would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to reaffirm our own commitment both to the process of negotiations and to a genuinely democratic outcome.

In this regard, we would again like to inform you that we have still to convince the government that it also should be committed to such a democratic outcome, accepting such ordinary concepts of a democratic system as majority rule and the absence of vetoes by minority parties.

We therefore still to overcome these obstacles so that the process of negotiations itself, as conducted within the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, can succeed.

We would further like to assure the Council that we, who are after all the victims of the evil system of apartheid, are determined that the process of negotiations should lead to a democratic outcome as soon as possible.

We therefore need no urging regarding this matter. What we do need is the assistance of this august body to help us reopen the door to bona fide negotiations.

Mr President,

Distinguished Members of the Council,

We thank you for the opportunity you have given us to address the Council and hope that you will respond to our appeal to help us end the carnage in South Africa with the understanding of the gravity of the situation which we know you share. Our people look forward to your decisions with great expectation.

Thank you.